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*This petition addresses the conduct of Rother District Council, and is in no way intended as derogatory toward the Gypsy and Traveller Community*

FOR OVER 10-YEARS despite their duty to do so, Rother Council has failed to identify a supply of traveller pitches on land that is suitable for residential use. 

As a result of Rother Council’s failure in planning, several traveller sites have been set-up on agricultural land that is classed as not suitable for residential use.

This causes a long list of issues for both the site occupants and nearby settled communities; including public safety, harm to equality & fairness, and this causes community tensions and a loss of trust in the planning system.

This also causes HUGE harm to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the local environment and local public amenity.

BATTLE PARISH is an English Heritage site and one of England’s most significant historic locations, the 1066 Battle of Hastings.

Battle Parish is ONE out of 31 parishes within the jurisdiction of Rother Council and makes up only 7% of the district (in land area and population).

Yet it currently supports 100% of the (retrospectively) authorised permanent traveller sites and pitches on behalf of the entire District of Rother. 

[Rother Council also reports 2 other sites in the District as ‘temporary’ – but they have been established for 9-years and 14-years each]

ALL of the traveller sites on private land in Rother District have become established by 'unauthorised development'. That means doing works and occupying the site without getting planning permission first. These sites were granted planning permission later because Rother Council did not identify a supply of traveller pitches on land suitable for residential use.

The problem with this is that any risks to public safety (of both the site occupants and local settled community), or harm to the local environment or harm to local amenity were not assessed before the sites were occupied, on agricultural land classed as not suitable for residential use.

Despite its legal powers, Rother Council has taken NO interim planning enforcement action in ANY of these cases. 

This goes against ALL national planning law, policy & published guidance. They should take interim enforcement action in such cases, to reduce the risk to public safety and harm to the High Weald AONB until a planning application can be properly considered. 

Rother Council has a duty to protect the High Weald AONB from inappropriate development. But it has now suffered irreparable damage due to their ongoing mismanagement of ALL of these cases and their repeated failure to identify a supply of traveller pitches on land suitable for residential use.

ANOTHER unplanned and unauthorised traveller site has just occurred in BATTLE PARISH on agricultural land not suitable for residential use; with development works and premature residential occupation of the site taking place without getting planning permission first.

Rother Council has again taken NO enforcement action, until all the risks and harms can be assessed as part of a planning application, which should be decided in 8-weeks. They are just letting it happen and 16-WEEKS later, they are STILL no closer to making any decision on the planning application!

In this particular case, Rother Council has FAILED TO ACT in order to:

  • PROTECT PUBLIC SAFETY (including RISK TO LIFE of both the site occupants and the nearby settled community) :-  The site has a known hazardous access point on a blind bend within an unlit 60mph speed limit zone, without pedestrian pavements. This is confirmed by the Highways Authority.
  • PROTECT THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT :-  The site is next to Ancient Woodland and a ‘Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site’ (PAWS) & Priority Habitat and is within the PAWS buffer zone. Rother Council has been warned by the Forestry Commission, Forestry England and Environment Agency that damage is already taking place from unregularised effluent discharge (foul sewage) and surface water run-off.
  • PROTECT LOCAL AMENITY :-  The site is in the High Weald AONB and is next to an Archaeological Notification Area (Medieval Quarry). The development is visible from the road and public pathways. Rother Council has not even contacted the High Weald AONB committee for their comments.
  • UPHOLD ITS OWN LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (Dec 2019) :-  The site is outside the official development boundary, is in open countryside and outside any 5-year supply of Gypsy and Traveller site and pitch allocation. It is also next to a site which was assessed as not suitable for development or allocation in the Battle Neighbourhood Plan.
    • By not planning properly for the location and supply of traveller pitches to; a) meet the needs of the traveller community; b) identify land suitable for residential use; and c) not overburden ONE small parish with the support of a disproportionate number of unplanned traveller sites and pitches. 
    • By the unequal use of its enforcement powers across all citizens.

According to the Local Development Plan, by 2028 Rother Council STILL expects Battle Parish to support 55% of ALL authorised permanent traveller pitches, on behalf of the entire District of Rother. In addition to 523 new homes.

If this unplanned and unauthorised site becomes established too, due to Rother Council’s failings, this will rise to 73% of ALL of the District’s authorised traveller pitches being on High Weald AONB agricultural land in Battle Parish.

This is not sustainable and is putting unjust pressure on the oversubscribed infrastructure, and public services of Battle Parish.

And is destroying the High Weald AONB around Battle Parish, one site at a time.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION, if you agree that the Secretary of State and The Planning Inspectorate should review:

1.      Rother District Council’s failure in its duty to both the settled and traveller communities, and its duty to protect the High Weald AONB, in its maladministration of the planning for traveller pitches on land suitable for residential use.

2.      The injustice of Rother District Council’s Failure to Act and use its enforcement powers (as expected by the Government) in ANY of these cases, in order to protect Public Safety (including Risk to Life) and limit known harms to the High Weal AONB.

3.      And in doing so, the injustice of Rother District Council in allowing an unplanned, disproportionate number of authorised traveller sites to be located in the small parish of Battle, on agricultural land not appropriate for residential use.

Thank-you for your support.